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Many found that their properties had been seized for nonpayment of taxes or otherwise appropriated. It was decades before nisei parents could talk to their postwar children about the camps.

A Day in the Life at Auschwitz

Paul Kitagaki Jr. At the National Archives in Washington, D. From fragmentary captions he has identified more than 50 of the subjects and persuaded them and their descendants to sit for his camera in settings related to their internment. His pictures here, published for the first time, read as portraits of resilience.

Jane Yanagi Diamond, now 77 and retired in Carmel, California, is living proof. Subject interviews conducted by Paul Kitagaki Jr. Subscribe or Give a Gift.

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Sign up. SmartNews History. History Archaeology. World History. Science Age of Humans. Human Behavior. Our Planet. Earth Optimism Summit. Ingenuity Ingenuity Festival. The Innovative Spirit. Featured: St. Travel American South. Caprice Adler. Thank you for providing so much good information. My father Albert Benrubi, an attorney who practiced law in Paris, France, died in Auschwitz after exhausting slave labor. That's all I know. I am still alive due to an amazing Catholic priest who met my father in Drancy's camp. Hello, Thank you for this comment! It is unbelievable how many families suffered because of WWII.

I am very sorry about your father. But there is a lot of hope in your story as well. I really appreciate you sharing this Best regards, Karolina. Marie stewart. I am sorry about your dear father and am happy you were saved by a compassionate soul. I wish I could know more about your story.

It touched my heart. You are very welcome. Tammy Stafford. This camp is not only a monument to those who died here,but also a reminder of how evil the Ss were. The Holocaust should never be forgotten. Definitely, Tammy! Thank you for your comment. Amy king. Such a horrible time in history, thank you for all the facts!! You are welcome, Amy! If you need any help - let me know : Best regards, Karolina. This is an amazing fact file, about a dreadful place. This has opened my eyes even more about the place of horror and evil. Thank you so much for bringing these out into the world, they may be depressing but they are the truth.

Dear Blu, Thank you for your comment and You are welcome! Thank you for your comment Elliott! I'm very glad that you fond this article useful and obviously one cannot stop thinking about how horrific this story is and how much those people suffered for no reason. Thank you so much for your comment Andy! When you start planning your visit - let me know, I'll be happy to help! I visited both camps in June and was astounded at the solid construction of Auschwitz 1. The buildings looked like a college campus at first sight until you discovered the terrible atrocities that took place here.

I am pleased that I was able to go through the entire complex, though some of the sites and interiors of the buildings were too sinister and disturbing to contemplate.

The System

I am certain that if the war was not brought to an end many more people would have lost their lives. The Birkenau camp looked more like a place for internment before death. It is in a much larger area and the barracks to house the inmates look very stark and poorly constructed. Much of the camp was destroyed by the German forces when they knew the allied advance was imminent.


It is a visit that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I have read so much about the Holocaust and every time I read something new, my heart breaks for the men, woman and children who died in those awful places. I cannot imagine what they must have gone through, especially the children who never knew what was happening. It must have been so scary for them. I wish I could put my arms around all those people and just hold them and let them know that 79 years later, people are still reading their stories an that what they went through, will never be forgotten. That was such a beautiful comment, Beverley!

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On the contrary, with the coming of war, in , S. On the eve of the war, the entire K. New camps were built to accommodate the influx of prisoners from conquered countries and then the tens of thousands of Red Army soldiers taken prisoner in the first months after Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the U. The enormous expansion of the camps resulted in an exponential increase in the misery of the prisoners. Food rations, always meagre, were cut to less than minimal: a bowl of rutabaga soup and some ersatz bread would have to sustain a prisoner doing heavy labor.

The result was desperate black marketing and theft. At the same time, the need to keep control of so many prisoners made the S. The murder of prisoners by guards, formerly an exceptional event in the camps, now became unremarkable. But individual deaths, by sickness or violence, were not enough to keep the number of prisoners within manageable limits. Accordingly, in early Himmler decided to begin the mass murder of prisoners in gas chambers, building on a program that the Nazis had developed earlier for euthanizing the disabled.

During the following months, teams of S. Everything was done with an appearance of medical rigor. Under this extermination program, known to S. By early , it had become obsolete, as the scale of death in the camps increased. Now the killing of weak and sick prisoners was carried out by guards or camp doctors, sometimes in gas chambers built on site. Those who were still able to work were increasingly auctioned off to private industry for use as slave labor, in the many subcamps that began to spring up around the main K. The work was brutally demanding, especially for women who were sick, starved, and exhausted.

When a worker reached the end of her usefulness, she was sent back to the camp, most likely to be killed. By the end of the war, the number of people who had died in the concentration camps, from all causes—starvation, sickness, exhaustion, beating, shooting, gassing—was more than eight hundred thousand. The figure does not include the hundreds of thousands of Jews gassed on arrival at Auschwitz. If the K. But in the camps the Nazis fought against helpless enemies.

Considered as prisons, too, the K.

Rebuilding Jewish identities in Displaced Persons Camps in Germany

And as economic institutions they were utterly counterproductive, wasting huge numbers of lives even as the need for workers in Germany became more and more acute. The concentration camps make sense only if they are understood as products not of reason but of ideology, which is to say, of fantasy. Nazism taught the Germans to see themselves as a beleaguered nation, constantly set upon by enemies external and internal.

Metaphors of infection and disease, of betrayal and stabs in the back, were central to Nazi discourse. The concentration camp became the place where those metaphorical evils could be rendered concrete and visible. Here, behind barbed wire, were the traitors, Bolsheviks, parasites, and Jews who were intent on destroying the Fatherland.

And if existence was a struggle, a war, then it made no sense to show mercy to the enemy.

Life of the Civil War Soldier in Camp

Like many Nazi institutions, the K. But most fundamental was the impulse to dehumanize the enemy, which ended up confounding and overriding all the others.

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  6. Once a prisoner ceased to be human, he could be brutalized, enslaved, experimented on, or gassed at will, because he was no longer a being with a soul or a self but a biological machine. The impulse to separate some groups of people from the category of the human is, however, a universal one.

    The enemies we kill in war, the convicted prisoners we lock up for life, even the distant workers who manufacture our clothes and toys—how could any society function if the full humanity of all these were taken into account? In a decent society, there are laws to resist such dehumanization, and institutional and moral forces to protest it.